” ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.’ ” Matthew 13:29
My eight-year-old son Mason is a very passionate and creative kid. However, he moves slower than molasses with everything: brushing his teeth, eating a meal, walking down the stairs. He doesn’t mean to hold everyone up, or slow down any process. It’s just that he’s a day-dreamer: he gets lost in the clouds all the time. You and I know that walking down the stairs is just an action to get from here to there. For Mason, it’s a chance to hop on two feet, then on one foot. Then there’s the opportunity to stop and size up whether he could slide down the banister without getting injured or in trouble. Instead, it occurs to him that he’s had a growth spurt recently. Now that he’s half-way down the steps, maybe with his longer legs he could climb up three steps at a time. So he gives that try. Consequently, he regresses, instead of progresses, and he’s right back where he started. We were five minutes late picking Zack up from karate before. Now we’re ten minutes late!
In exchange for taking my kids on fun “adventures” every day during the summer, I require that they write and draw a picture about the day’s adventure in their journals. Although Mason’s great imagination makes him a wonderful writer and artist, historically it has also meant a painfully long time journaling. His brother Zack has always been a “get it done so I can have fun” kid. Twenty minutes into it and Zack’s writing, drawing and coloring were completed. Then he was off either using his thirty minutes of screen time on the computer, or playing with Legos. An hour later, Mason was still writing away and adding details to his pictures that were already museum worthy.
In years past, I’ve ended up pushing Mason, rushing him to get it done. There was always some other fun activity to do, or dinner to eat, or a shower to be taken. Moreover, when his brother was off playing on the computer or with Legos, Mason slowed down even more, distracted by what game Zack was playing or what structure he was building. Despite lots of creative problem solving ideas, it usually ended up ugly: Mason still going as slow as a snail, with tears in his eyes, and me, frustrated beyond measure.
My prayer was that this summer it would be better, easier, now that Mason is a year older. He had to journal in class every day this past school year. I was hoping that that too would contribute to a big improvement.
There was a bit of a rocky start this June, but all in all, Mason was getting the journaling done in a timely manner! I was so excited to move on to the next thing that I wasn’t paying attention to the finished product. I was just happy that it was getting done.
Recently, I looked at his writing and drawings from this summer. I compared them to years past and my heart plummeted. There was no comparison. This year’s writing was brief and sloppy. This year’s pictures were vague and void of any detail. I was devastated!
I wasn’t wise like the farmer in this parable. I didn’t realize that rushing and pushing Mason so much would crush his spirit, eliminate any and all detail in his writing and drawings. I rooted up the wheat while pulling the weeds! But worse than a farmer ruining one season’s crops, I had stifled the greatest gifts my son had to offer: creativity, joy and passion. In my opinion, there’s nothing more unforgivable that a mother can do!
Fortunately for me, God, and children, are amazingly forgiving. Once I realized my error, I went to God in prayer, asking for the solution, and to Mason, asking for forgiveness.
The great news is, there is a happy ending to this story. After implementing a combination of ideas that came to me in my prayer time (thanks God!), and just being downright honest about what I had done and what I had learned with Mason, he is back to his old happy, imaginative, pie-in-the-sky self. To confirm that all is well, when I told him how much I love that he sees joy in everything, his emphatic response was, “But there is joy in everything!” I can’t tell you how grateful I am for second chances!
I still haven’t figured out how to completely strike a balance between nourishing Mason’s free spirit, yet preparing him for a world that has deadlines. If you have any suggestions and/or tips, I’d love to hear them!